“The central goal of the Arts of Liberty Project is to provide those engaged in the noble art of teaching with abundant resources to fulfill their mission.”
I started teaching at twenty-two at a classical school in Fort Worth. I’ll never forget that first day, standing in an Ann Taylor dress before ten slightly odorous fourth graders, wondering how I got there. Despite my inexperience, I felt what Eric Liddell describes in Chariots of Fire as “God’s pleasure in me.” I knew teaching was my calling, though I did not know how to do it well. Over the next dozen years, I dedicated myself to discovering how to teach well, to researching more about the liberal arts tradition that I had unwittingly stepped into, and to promoting liberal education for more people.
In 2020 amidst the chaos of the pandemic and the quick disintegration of liberal arts programs across higher education, a group of professors in liberal arts applied for a grant to found Liberating Arts, an effort we hoped would help us learn more about why the liberal arts matter, where such formation in these arts should occur, and how to continue this tradition. After a year of hosting conversations via Zoom and sharing them over in podcast form, we learned a lot. First, we learned that we needed a way to sustain the project that began only as a three-year investigatory grant. The Arts of Liberty, founded by Jeffrey Lehman, began years before our efforts into this arena, and the project will become the home for our future endeavors. Through the Arts of Liberty, we will be able to support teachers in the liberal arts in their liberating work in and out of classrooms.
The Arts of Liberty is the resource that I wish I had encountered as a young teacher, and it should be the go-to support and encouragement for all of those invested in liberal education. The project aims to offer reliable guides to students, teachers, and lifelong learners. We have a grand vision in our desire to educate for freedom:
· A regular newsletter with inspiration; upcoming opportunities; resources from our site; lists of relevant podcasts, stories, and articles; as well as pieces by guest writers
· A podcast hosted through Liberating Arts, with more episodes from Director Jessica Hooten Wilson and the Arts of Liberty founder Jeffrey Lehman
· An annual conference: in 2022, you can look forward to the fourth biennial Future of the Catholic Imagination Conference hosted by Arts of Liberty on the University of Dallas campus
· Free courses, lectures, books, trips abroad…. We are just getting started!
We look forward to increasing our opportunities to inspire you on your journey. Please feel free to contact me (Jessica Hooten Wilson) if you would like to work more closely with Arts of Liberty in the future. We would love to share your likeminded content, promote organizations invested in liberal arts, and continue in friendship with those who care about freedom, a flourishing culture, and the good life.